June 30, 2016 8:23 AM EDT

Most aircraft tend to be loud, lumbering and prone to guzzling costly (and eco-harmful) fuel. Not so with NASA’s all-electric plane, which aims to set a new standard. Its thin wing is designed to create less drag, and electric motors help it fly at its cruising speed (175 m.p.h.) more efficiently than gas-powered models do–sans what the project’s co–principal investigator Sean Clarke calls “annoying” noise pollution. Although the plane will only be able to fly for about 45 minutes when it debuts in 2019, similar tech could power short commercial flights in the near future.

This appears in the July 11, 2016 issue of TIME.

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com.

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